Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the very few writers who deserves a biopic. His life had a lot of history and there are so many happenings that I wonder why it took so long for someone to make a film on him. His values and his perspective is truthful honesty and in 1940's he fought for penning down things "as they are" and had he lived today, perhaps he would be fighting for his rights.
The movie set in the 1940’s precisely between 1947 and 1951 harks back to a time when India was being torn and carved into India and Pakistan. Manto is torn too and makes a choice upon instigation which did not do any good for either his freedom of expression or for his own family well-being.
I so wish he corrected the decision and returned to his beloved place where he felt home.
Acted superbly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and penned well by Nandita Das herself, the movie gives words a new lease of life. There is space ‘Thehraav’ in the film that gave me time to ponder. The period setup is extremely good considering the limitations of resources for the film. All the technical departments especially the editing are in fine form.
Emotionally, I wished this film did something to me. Except taking me back and telling me how close was Ismat Chugtai with Manto and also refreshing me with Manto’s stories, this film did little. For whatever the reasons are, I was not moved as much as I expected myself to move and feel. I suppose that perhaps knowing Manto’s life well enough through his stories was a reason.
I strongly recommend you look up his short stories "Khol Do", "Bu", "Toba Tek Singh" and "Thanda Gosht" as this homework would certainly help you better connect with the film.
Although everyone was good in their roles and technically the film was fine, I do wish it made me feel more. For that reason alone, I am giving it a 3/5 in an otherwise terrific film.